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Letter to the Editor
  • The Authors Respond:, C Peter N Watson, Judith H Watt-Watson, and Mary L Chipman
    Pain Research and Management
    Letter to the Editor (Pages 253-254), Issue 4, Volume 11 (2006)
Pain Research and Management
Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 19-24
Original Article

Chronic Noncancer Pain and the Long Term Utility of Opioids

CPN Watson,1 JH Watt-Watson,2 and ML Chipman3

1Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada
2Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Canada
3Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To report on a long term experience in treating patients with chronic noncancer pain (CNCP).

METHODS: One hundred two patients with CNCP were seen every three months and followed for one year or more (median eight years, range one to 22). Demographic data, diagnostic categories and response to therapies were recorded. The utility and safety of opioid therapy, adverse events, impact on disability and issues related to previous psychiatric or chemical dependency history were documented.

RESULTS: Most patients reported a variety of neuropathic pain problems and most required chronic opioid therapy after the failure of other treatments. Although 44% reported being satisfied with pain relief despite adverse events, it is noteworthy that the remaining patients chose to continue therapy for the modest benefit of pain relief despite adverse events. Moreover, 54% were less disabled on opioid therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: This is a large sample of CNCP patients, most taking opioids over a long period of time. CNCP can be treated by opioids safely and with a modest effect, with improvement in functioning in some patients who are refractory to other measures. If care is taken, opioids may even be used effectively for patients with a history of chemical dependency.